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January 25, 2016 FacebookTwitterFlickrRSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
Inside this issue
Fiat Brand's Goal: 'Bring Traffic to the Dealers'
2016 Will See Fewer Dealership Acquisitions
What to Expect From Regulators in 2016
Product Launches Follow a Faster Cadence
Honda Makes Moves, but Will Stay in California
Detroit Auto Show Attendance Rises Again
Top Stories
Fiat Brand's Goal: 'Bring Traffic to the Dealers'

Execs say products need better differentiation

The three men who run the struggling Fiat brand in North America say cheap fuel prices are only part of what's ailing the small-car marque, and that it is up to Fiat Chrysler -- not its dealers -- to fix the problem. In interviews this month at the Detroit auto show, Fiat global brand boss Olivier Francois, Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat in North America, and Bob Broderdorf, who runs the brand's day-to-day operations in North America, said FCA must generate more traffic in dealer showrooms. To do so, FCA is likely to focus on product marketing aimed at differentiating Fiat products from one another.
Source: Automotive News
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2016 Will See Fewer Dealership Acquisitions

The hot dealership acquisition market is likely to slow in 2016 as retailer profits get squeezed by plateauing new-vehicle sales. Some of the industry's most prominent dealership acquirers say they expect to do fewer deals this year because they are unwilling, in the face of slipping profits, to pay prices that would presume a continuation of 2015's robust profit margins. But sellers aren't ready to lower their asking prices just yet. Stock prices of the six publicly traded dealership groups have taken a severe hit in recent months, implying that Wall Street expects lower profits from them.
Source: Automotive News
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What to Expect From Regulators in 2016

There could be new curves for dealers to navigate this year on the regulatory road, a path that can sometimes wind and change course with little notice. Some of those twists in 2016, says Randy Henrick of Dealertrack Technologies, may involve ramped up regulation of dealership aftermarket products, continued focus on deceptive advertising, and increased pressure from state attorneys general — a group dealers are more likely to hear from than federal agencies. During a webinar [last] week, Henrick outlined regulatory enforcement by various agencies, looking back on their activities from the past year while also forecasting what may be on their respective radars this year.

About 20 minutes into the webinar — after recapping the 2015 actions from a couple of agencies and giving dealers some compliance tips — Henrick turned to what he called the "good news portion of our program." Believe it or not, that news was about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “We are winning the war on indirect auto dealer disparate impact credit discrimination, and rate participation is not going to go away,” Henrick said. “I’ve been saying that for two years, and it’s true.” The CFPB, he said, had a rough 2015. And the start to 2016 wasn’t much better.
Source: Subprime Auto Finance News
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Product Launches Follow a Faster Cadence

Model launches are the auto industry's gravy train. Years in the planning and execution, they involve thousands of employees at hundreds of companies. Investments range from tens of millions to billions. Money rains on long supply chains for the length of the projects. But the model is changing rapidly. Part of the change is geography, with launches going into new plants in the Southeast U.S. and Mexico. Part is the increased number of production launches that will come from German and Asian automakers adding new models and plant capacity. But a critical factor is increased speed -- what one expert calls "the new cadence."
Source: Automotive News
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Honda Makes Moves, but Will Stay in California

Ohio office handles some, not all, business services

The three largest Japanese automakers are similar in a lot of ways. But when it comes to managing North America, Honda Motor Co. is following a different drummer. Toyota and Nissan are through with suburban Los Angeles for their North American headquarters, but Honda is not. While Honda has brought together 600 employees and executives in Ohio, the company still has 2,500 employees in California with no intention of moving them, says Jeffrey Smith, chief spokesman for Honda North America. "We are investing in California, not divesting," Smith says.
Source: Automotive News
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Detroit Auto Show Attendance Rises Again

The Detroit auto show drew big crowds Sunday at the renovated Cobo Center as patrons tried for last-minute peeks at the shiny vehicles, helping to push attendance to 815,575 visitors this year, which included the president of the United States. Sunday’s crowd finished at 104,263, according to the North American International Auto Show website figures. Attendance overall broke last year’s attendance of 808,775.
Source: The Detroit News
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Quotable
"I don't know that I need the dealers to do anything differently. The dealers do a really good job. We need to bring traffic to the dealers."

   
-- Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat in North America, on how the automaker plans to increase sales in the U.S., Automotive News, Jan. 25

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